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Lipset and Rokkan considered the class cleavage to be the primary factor in structuring the Old Politics alignment because class issues were the most salient during the extension of the franchise. The Old Left therefore identifies itself with the working class and labor unions, as well as secular groups and urban interests also see Lijphart The Old Right is synonymous with business interests and the middle class; in some nations this conservative coalition also includes religious and rural voters.

When political issues tap the concerns of the Old Politics cleavage--for example, wage settlements, employment programs, social security programs, or church-related legislation--party positions reflect their traditional social orientations. The political conflicts of advanced industrial societies have created a new dimension of cleavage in recent years. This New Politics dimension involves conflict over a new set of issues: environmental quality, alternative lifestyles, minority rights, participation, and social equality. This dimension represents the cleavage between proponents of these issues, the New Left, and citizens who feel threatened by these issues, the New Right.


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  5. The Old Politics cleavage is likely to remain the primary basis of partisan conflict in most advanced industrial democracies for the immediate future. The New Politics dimension is significantly affecting these party systems, however, because it can cut across the established Old Politics cleavage. Despite their differences, labor unions and business interests occasionally join forces to fight the opponents of nuclear energy. Farmers and students sometimes become allies to oppose industrial development projects that may threaten the environment.

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    Fundamentalist blue-collar and white-collar workers unite to oppose changes in moral codes. An emerging New Left and New Right potentially may restructure social-group alignments and party coalitions. In sum, the simple dichotomy between Old Left and Old Right is no longer adequate to describe present patterns of political competition. The contemporary political space is now better described by at least two dimensions.

    In the last edition of this book we mapped the sociopolitical space using cross-national data from the Political Action study Dalton , chap. Contemporary data of this sort are available only for the United States, and we will use the American case to illustrate the Old Politics and New Politics cleavages. For much of this century, the Old Politics cleavage provided the frame-work for party competition in the American party system.

    The New Deal coalitions created by the Great Depression determined the social bases of party support: the Democratic Party and its labor union supporters against the Republicans and big business. Religious differences were muted because of the formal separation of church and state in the United States. In the s the New Politics began to affect American politics.

    Student protesters, the women's movement, and the alternative movement challenged the symbols of the political establishment. Herbert Weisberg and Jerrold Rusk described how this cultural conflict introduced new dimension of cleavage into American politics, as represented by dissident Democratic candidates in the late s and early s. New Politic issues entered the agenda of subsequent campaigns. Rusk and Weisberg found, however, that the Democrats and Republicans were not clearly divided on New Politics issues; these issues divided parties internally rather than separating them politically.

    The policies of the Reagan and Bush administrations stimulated a convergence of Old Politics and New Politics alignments over thes and early s. The tax and spending priorities of the Reagan administration sharply favored business and the more affluent sectors of society. This served to reinforce ties between business interests and the Republican Party. Furthermore, the Reagan administration pursued a conservative social agenda and developed strong political links to religious groups such as the Moral Majority and other fundamentalist organizations.

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    To an extent atypical of modern American politics, religion was injected into partisan politics. The Reagan and Bush administrations also clarified party positions on the New Politics agenda. Environmental protection was an issue that had roots in the Republican Party; Richard Nixon, for example, had established the Environmental Protection Agency during his first presidential term and had introduced a variety of environmental legislation. Yet Ronald Reagan openly speculated that "killer trees" were a major cause of air pollution.

    The policy initiatives of the Reagan administration demonstrated its hostility toward the environmental movement. Although George Bush claimed to be the environmental president, the assault on environmental protection legislation continued under his administration. Similarly, the Reagan and Bush administrations were openly antagonistic toward feminist organizations.

    The abortion issue became a litmus test of Republican values in the appointment of federal judges and the selection of candidates.

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    As the Republicans became critical of the New Politics agenda, the Democrats became advocates of these issues. The Democrats became the partisan supporters of the environmental movement in congressional legislation. The Democrats were the first to nominate a woman and feminist for national political office, Geraldine Ferraro in Alternative political groups also developed a political base and prominence among the activist core of the Democratic Party.

    In short, political cleavage lines seemed to overlap and become more polarized during thes. This pattern of ideological convergence was simplified because only two parties exist in America; if one party adopts a position, the opposition naturally gravitates toward the other party. Furthermore, the Reagan and Bush administrations consciously sought to clarify their position on New Politics issues because they thought this could benefit them electorally. The Democrats were as enthusiastic in embracing these same constituencies.

    We can test these expectations with data from the American National Election Study. The survey asked respondents about their feelings toward a set of sociopolitical groups and the political parties. We used a statistical analysis method to represent the interrelationship of group perceptions in graphic terms. When there 's a strong similarity in how two groups are evaluated, they are located near each other in the space. When groups are evaluated in dissimilar terms, they are positioned a distance apart in the space.

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    The American sociopolitical space in is depicted in figure 7. Clinton is located at the left of the horizontal dimension, along with labor unions. Bush is located at the opposite end of this continuum, and the nearest group is big business; fundamentalist religious groups are part of the conservative Republican cluster. We also find a second dimension of political cleavage, which has Texas billionaire Ross Perot juxtapositioned against minority groups, such as Hispanics, blacks, and the poor. This pattern fits the tone of the Perot campaign in and the social base of Perot supporters.

    What is distinctive about the patterns, however, is the movement toward fusion of the Old Politics and New Politics cleavages. Instead of two dimensions of conflict aligned at right angles, as seen In earlier studies, one sees that New Left groups have apparently moved toward the Democratic Party. The cluster of Clinton support groups includes the unions and feminists, gays, and environmentalists.

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    Even if some tensions exist among groups within each cluster, the bipolar nature of contemporary American politics is becoming apparent. Comparable and current data on the sociopolitical space in Britain, Germany, and France are not available, but another study uses a different method to illustrate party positions on Old Politics and New Politics issues in all four party systems. Michael Laver and W Ben Hunt asked experts to position the parties in their respective nations on a set of policy dimensions.

    Figure 7. The Democratic Party in the United States is located at the left end of this continuum, following the pattern found above in mapping the sociopolitical space. At the opposite end of the Old Politics dimension are the Republicans. Even before the present "Contract with America," the Reagan administration had developed a strong commitment to cutting public services and cutting taxes. This is now ingrained in the Republican policy image.

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    In Britain, the Labour Party has been the representative of the working class and the advocate for socialist policy. The party's working-class orientation is institutionalized through formal ties to the labor unions. Normally, membership in a union automatically includes a dues-paying membership in the Labour Party; union leaders also control this large bloc of votes at Labour Party conventions. Past Labour governments have nationalized several major industrial sectors, expanded social welfare programs, and vigorously defended the interests of their working-class supporters. The party was traditionally a representative of liberal, middle-class values.

    In recent years it has formed and reformed itself, but still holds a centrist position on issues of the government's socioeconomic role. Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party government aggressively attempted to roll back the scale of national government during the s.